Shrine of Remembrance CEO did not fabricate safety threats against staff

Shrine of Remembrance CEO did not fabricate safety threats against staff

What was claimed

The verdict

Far-right activists claim Shrine of Remembrance CEO lied about threats against the safety of staff following criticism of a planned light display recognising LGBTIQ+ military personnel.

False. Staff at the Shrine of Remembrance did receive threats to their safety which Victoria Police are investigating.

By Ellen Blake

Far-right activists have accused Shrine of Remembrance chief executive officer Dean Lee of fabricating stories about threats to staff safety, without providing any sound evidence.

The claim was made in a video posted on Facebook which has been viewed 34,000 times and shared by social media users.

The rainbow light display at the Shrine’s colonnades was scheduled for Sunday 31 July to recognise LGBTIQ+ military personnel, but the plan was criticised by conservative commentators and politicians who accused the display of politicising the memorial site.

The display was cancelled after staff received threats to their safety. Victoria Police told RMIT Fact Lab they were investigating the correspondence received by staff.

In the video the activist is seen speaking to a Protective Services Officer in front of the Shrine who says he is “in charge of the Shrine guards”. The unidentified PSO is asked if he knows anything about the threats, and says, “Oh, just emails and what have you”, then adds, “they’re actually not threats, they’re just hate mail”. It is unclear whether he was aware he was being interviewed and filmed.

The activist then concludes his video saying: “As suspected, there were no threats. That should be the headline now across the country. That the CEO of the war memorial is fabricating stories to garner support from the wider community to the fact that he’s a political hack, using the shrine for his own political agenda.”

Another far-right activist repeated the claim in his own video and social media users shared both videos widely, garnering tens of thousands additional views.

In a statement released on Saturday 30 July, Mr Lee said the rainbow light display was cancelled over fears for staff safety.

“Over several days, our staff have received and been subject to sustained abuse and, in some cases, threats,” he said in the statement.

Speaking on ABC radio, Mr Lee said: “There were personal, physical threats against me, causing me sufficient concern to change my behaviours and for my trusted colleagues to express their concern for the safety of myself and my family.

“It’s been a very difficult time for myself and all members of the Shrine family... all of them have been subject to some form of abuse.”

Shrine of Remembrance marketing manager Sue Curwood told RMIT FactLab in an email that staff had reported the incidents to Victoria Police.

“Threats were made against staff, the building, and to disrupt the service on Sunday. As the matter is now with Victoria Police, we’ve been advised not to comment further,” she said.

Victoria Police leading senior constable Kendra Jackson said Melbourne Crime Investigation unit detectives were investigating correspondence received by staff at the Shrine of Remembrance.

“The matter is currently being assessed to determine whether any criminality is involved,” she said.

Thumbnail photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


The verdict

False. Far-right activists claimed Shrine of Remembrance chief executive officer Dean Lee fabricated reports of threats against staff at the Melbourne war memorial over a planned light display recognising LGBTQI+ military personnel. But Victoria Police said they were investigating the threats.

07 August 2022


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